HOUSTON – Steve Mariucci has experience working as a head coach with a general manager who came straight from the broadcast booth after a lengthy playing career.
“Yes, I do,” Mariucci told CSNBayArea.com.
Mariucci knows why things went so poorly when Matt Millen took over as the Detroit Lions’ top football executive in 2001. And he also believes John Lynch has the temperament and self-awareness to avoid those mistakes in his role as 49ers general manager.
Two years into the job, Millen fired Marty Mornhinweg as head coach and hired Mariucci shortly after the 49ers were eliminated in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
Mariucci went 15-28 before Millen fired him after 12 games of their third season together.
Millen lasted seven seasons, during which time the team compiled a 31-81 record. Moreover, with a roster comprised mostly of players Millen acquired, the Lions went 0-16 the season after Millen was fired.
There are two major differences, as Mariucci sees it, in the comparison of Millen and Lynch, who is also coming directly from working as a TV analyst.
“Matt made all of the decisions,” Mariucci said. “John will listen.”
Lynch does not figure to make all of the decisions with the 49ers. It will likely be a collaborative effort with the 49ers under Lynch’s direction that will include much influence from presumptive coach Kyle Shanahan and newly hired vice president of player personnel Adam Peters.
“The only thing he doesn’t have is experience,” Mariucci said of Lynch. “But he’ll gain it as he goes. He’s one of those guys, if he doesn’t know something, he’ll ask. And he’s got a lot of friends in the business, and he’ll be a quick study.
“He’s a great worker. He will do whatever it takes. He’s one of those guys who won’t look at the clock. He’s going to say, ‘This needs to get done’ or ‘I need to learn this, and I’m going to leave no stones unturned.’ He’s got that in him. That’s why I believe in John Lynch.”
The 49ers announced the firings of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke shortly after the conclusion of a 2-14 season, which included a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak.
Shanahan was involved in the process to hire Lynch as general manager on Sunday. Shanahan also took part in interviews last weekend with Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough and Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton while the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator had a break in his preparations to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.
“I don’t know Kyle as well as I know his dad,” Mariucci said of Shanahan. “But I know he’s good at what he does. He’s one of those guys who grinds and works. He’s been around it long enough to see how an organization should function.”
Lynch and Shanahan will both receive six-year contracts, sources told CSNBayArea.com. Shanahan will become the fourth 49ers coach in four seasons, following Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, who both lasted only one year apiece.
“They’re giving them long-term contracts, which I think they need, because this is not a quick fix in San Francisco,” Mariucci said. “It’s going to be a gradual process. That’s what Chip Kelly understood it was going to be – a gradual process.
“They didn’t spend a lot of their $42 million in salary cap space, so they got to spend that and draft and acquire the right personnel. And that will happen over time.”